Best German Actors past & present

by comm-12 | created - 14 Aug 2011 | updated - 07 Mar 2013 | Public

In no specific order! Frequently updated. Make a suggestion! This list is my point of view and my measurement is acting quality and not success or level of fame. If you haven't heard of some names, it is because they are probably totally unknown outside Germany.

1. Maximilian Schell

Actor | Judgment at Nuremberg

Maximilian Schell was the most successful German-speaking actor in English-language films since Emil Jannings, the winner of the first Best Actor Academy Award. Like Jannings, Schell won the Oscar, but unlike him, he was a dedicated anti-Nazi. Indeed, with the exception of Maurice Chevalier and ...

Is Austrian.

2. Hans Albers

Soundtrack | Soul Kitchen

Life companion was the actress Hansi Burg. Their relationship started in 1925. They separated in 1935 due to the pressure of the German Nazi government. In 1938 she went into exile in Switzerland (later London). Shortly after this she married the Norwegian Erich Blydt. Burg returned to Germany and ...

3. Horst Buchholz

Actor | La vita è bella

On the cast list of The Magnificent Seven (1960), you will find several names that doubtless you know well: Charles Bronson, Steve McQueen, and Yul Brynner. But there is one name that you will have difficulty pronouncing, let alone identifying as an actor you have seen before. That man is Horst ...

4. Jörg Schüttauf

Actor | Tatort

Jörg Schüttauf was born on December 26, 1961 in Karl-Marx-Stadt, German Democratic Republic. He is an actor, known for Tatort (1970), Vorwärts immer! (2017) and Ete und Ali (1985). He is married to Martina. They have one child.

5. Christoph Waltz

Actor | Django Unchained

Christoph Waltz is an Austrian-German actor. He is known for his works with American filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, receiving acclaim for portraying SS-Standartenführer Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds (2009) and bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz in Django Unchained (2012). For each performance, he ...

Is Austrian.

6. Manfred Krug

Actor | Liebling Kreuzberg

In 1950, Krug moved to East Germany where he worked in heavy industry before he started his career as an actor and, later on, as a singer and entertainer in the communist GDR. In 1968, he got the national prize and was only at the beginning of his career. He starred in many successful East German ...

7. Curd Jürgens

Actor | The Spy Who Loved Me

Curd Jürgens (commonly billed as "Curt Jurgens" in anglophone countries) was one of the most successful European film actors of the 20th Century. He was born Curd Gustav Andreas Gottlieb Franz Jürgens on December 13, 1915, in Solln, Bavaria, in Hohenzollern Imperial Germany, a subject of Kaiser ...

8. Daniel Brühl

Actor | Rush

Daniel Brühl was born in Barcelona, Spain. His father was German TV director Hanno Brühl (1937-2010), who was born in São Paulo, Brazil. His Spanish mother was a teacher. He also has a brother and a sister, Oliver and Miriam. Shortly after his birth, his family moved to Cologne, Germany, where he ...

9. Armin Mueller-Stahl

Actor | Eastern Promises

Armin Mueller-Stahl was born on December 17, 1930 in Tilsit, East Prussia, Germany. He is an actor and director, known for Eastern Promises (2007), Shine (1996) and The International (2009). He has been married to Gabriele Scholz since 1973. They have one child. He was previously married to Monika ...

10. Senta Berger

Actress | Unter Verdacht

Senta Berger was born in 1941 in Vienna, Austria to her father Josef Berger who was a musician and her mother Therese Berger, a school teacher. Senta and her father performed together when she was just four years old. She sang and her dad played the piano. At five years old, she took ballet lessons...

11. Günter Lamprecht

Actor | Das Boot

Günter Lamprecht was born on January 21, 1930 in Berlin-Wilmersdorf, Germany. He is an actor and writer, known for Das Boot (1981), Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980) and Das Brot des Bäckers (1976).

12. Götz George

Actor | Der Totmacher

Götz George, born in Berlin in 1938, is the son of the famous actor Heinrich George and his wife, the actress Berta Drews. After first appearances on the stage of Berlin's Hebbel Theater during his childhood, Götz George was trained as an actor by the recognized teacher Else Bongers. At the age of ...

13. Jürgen Prochnow

Actor | Das Boot

Born in Berlin, Germany, in 1941, Jürgen Prochnow is a leading actor of the German stage and screen. He was memorable as the submarine captain in the gritty WW II film Das Boot (1981), which brought him to international prominence. He has since starred in many well-received European and Hollywood ...

14. Jörg Schüttauf

Actor | Tatort

Jörg Schüttauf was born on December 26, 1961 in Karl-Marx-Stadt, German Democratic Republic. He is an actor, known for Tatort (1970), Vorwärts immer! (2017) and Ete und Ali (1985). He is married to Martina. They have one child.

15. Angelica Domröse

Actress | Unterm Birnbaum

Angelica Domröse was born on April 4, 1941 in Berlin, Germany. She is an actress, known for Unterm Birnbaum (1973), Emilia Galotti (1967) and Die Legende von Paul und Paula (1973). She was previously married to Hilmar Thate and Jirí Vrstála.

16. Ulrich Mühe

Actor | Das Leben der Anderen

Ulrich Mühe was born on June 20, 1953 in Grimma, East Germany as Friedrich Hans Ulrich Mühe. He was an actor and director, known for The Lives of Others (2006), Funny Games (1997) and Der letzte Zeuge (1998). He was married to Susanne Lothar, Jenny Gröllmann and Annegret Hahn. He died on July 22, ...

17. August Diehl

Actor | Inglourious Basterds

August Diehl was born on January 4, 1976 in Berlin, Germany. He is an actor and writer, known for Inglourious Basterds (2009), Love in Thoughts (2004) and 23 (1998). He is married to Julia Malik. They have one child.

18. Hannah Herzsprung

Actress | The Reader

Hannah Herzsprung was born on September 7, 1981 in Hamburg, West Germany as Hannah-Rebecca Herzsprung. She is an actress, known for The Reader (2008), Who Am I - Kein System ist sicher (2014) and Vier Minuten (2006).

19. Hilmar Thate

Actor | Wege in die Nacht

Hilmar Thate was born on April 17, 1931 in Dölau, Germany as Hilmar Otto Thate. He was an actor, known for Wege in die Nacht (1999), Veronika Voss (1982) and Der neunte Tag (2004). He was married to Angelica Domröse and Lore. He died on September 14, 2016 in Berlin, Germany.

20. Walter Plathe

Actor | Märkische Chronik

Walter Plathe was born on November 5, 1950 in East Berlin, East Germany. He is an actor, known for Märkische Chronik (1983), Der Landarzt (1987) and Spuk aus der Gruft (1998). He was previously married to Victoria Sturm.

21. Hanna Schygulla

Actress | Die Ehe der Maria Braun

Lead icon of the influential New German Cinema of the 70's & 80's, Schygulla's natural blonde beauty and amazing versatility keep her among the world's top actresses. She won best actress at Cannes in 1983 for Storia di Piera (1983) (aka "The Story of Piera"), an Italian/German co-production. The ...

22. Lilli Palmer

Actress | Anastasia - Die letzte Zarentochter

A charming, elegant, and exceedingly popular international film star with a gentle, understated beauty, actress Lilli Palmer was born as Lilli Marie Peiser on May 24, 1914, in Posen, Prussia. She was the daughter of Rose Lissman, an Austrian Jewish actress, and Alfred Peiser, a German Jewish ...

23. Heinz Rühmann

Actor | Der Hauptmann von Köpenick

Heinz Rühmann was born on March 7, 1902 in Essen, Germany as Heinrich Wilhelm Rühmann. He was an actor and producer, known for The Captain from Köpenick (1956), Ein Mann geht durch die Wand (1959) and It Happened in Broad Daylight (1958). He was married to Hertha Droemer, Hertha Feiler and ...

24. Nastassja Kinski

Actress | Tess

Nastassja Kinski was born Nastassja Aglaia Nakszynski on January 24, 1961 in Berlin, Germany, the daughter of German actor Klaus Kinski. In 1976, she met director Roman Polanski, who urged her to study method acting with Lee Strasberg in the United States. Kinski starred in the Italian romantic ...

25. Mario Adorf

Actor | Der große Bellheim

Mario Adorf, a tell-tale name indeed. Mario calls to mind the actor's Italian roots (his father was a Calabrian surgeon) whereas Adorf reveals his German origins (his mother was a radiologist from the German region Eifel). As for the full name Mario Adorf it echoes to perfection the international ...

26. Heinz Hoenig

Actor | Das Boot

Heinz Hoenig was born on September 24, 1951 in Landsberg am Lech, Bavaria, Germany. He is an actor, known for Das Boot (1981), Der Schattenmann (1996) and Der König von St. Pauli (1998). He was previously married to Simone Hoenig.

27. Hardy Krüger

Actor | The Flight of the Phoenix

At thirteen years, German-born and raised Hardy Kruger became a member of the "Hitler Jugend" (Hitler Youth), as did all 13-year-old boys in Germany then. The purpose of the organization was to prepare the boys for military service. At age 15, Hardy made his film debut in a German picture (Junge ...

28. Gottfried John

Actor | GoldenEye

Gottfried John was born on August 29, 1942 in Berlin, Germany. He was an actor, known for GoldenEye (1995), Asterix and Obelix vs. Caesar (1999) and Proof of Life (2000). He was married to Brigitte. He died on September 1, 2014 in Munich, Bavaria, Germany.

29. Elmar Wepper

Actor | Kirschblüten - Hanami

Elmar Wepper was born on April 16, 1944 in Augsburg, Germany. He is known for his work on Kirschblüten - Hanami (2008), Zwei Münchner in Hamburg (1989) and Unsere schönsten Jahre (1983). He has been married to Anita Schlierf since 2004.

30. Klaus Kinski

Actor | Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht

Klaus Kinski was born as Klaus Günter Karl Nakszynski in Zoppot, Free City of Danzig (now Sopot, Poland), to Susanne (Lutze), a nurse, and Bruno Nakszynski, a pharmacist. He grew up in Berlin, was drafted into the German army in 1944 and captured by British forces in Holland. After the war he began...

31. Rolf Hoppe

Actor | Sardsch

Rolf Hoppe was born on December 6, 1930 in Ellrich, Thuringia, Germany. He is an actor, known for Sardsch (1997), Mephisto (1981) and Orpheus in der Unterwelt (1974). He has been married to Friederike since 1962. They have two children.

32. Udo Kier

Actor | Downsizing

Udo Kier was born October 14, 1944 in Cologne, Germany, during World War II. His entrance was just as dramatic as some of his roles. On the evening of his birth Udo's mother requested extra time with her new baby. The nurses had gathered all of the other babies and returned them to the nursery when...

33. Ulrich Tukur

Actor | Das Leben der Anderen

Ulrich Tukur was born on July 29, 1957 in Viernheim, Hesse, Germany as Ulrich Scheurlen. He is an actor, known for The Lives of Others (2006), Solaris (2002) and John Rabe (2009). He has been married to Katharina John since October 2003. He was previously married to Amber Wood.